tv Today in Washington CSPAN February 28, 2012 6:00am-9:00am EST
spending groups and super pacs we're talking about here but also into think tanks, and policy institutes, things like media matters monitoring the truthfulness of various cable outlets. and so you've seen this kind of calculation by money interest, rich individuals, and folks with money in this country that you might be able to achieve the political outcomes better by bypassing these old structures and creating your own ways to slug it out in the political arena. maybe the question we should be asking, is the proliferation of thing takes, weakening the parties as mediators of the political debate, and is a is that a bad thing or a good thing? let me close on this point because i think it's another phenomenon we ought to be aware of, and that's, we are also seeing the blurring of the line
between think tanks, policy advocacy and innovation that they do and lobbying. over the last 10 or 15 years i've watched as companies, trade associations have either developed their own internal research shops or farmed out to work, independent scholars, sometimes think tanks, because it's becoming more sophisticated game even since jack abramoff's day. is not just golf outings anymore. you've got to go in with a lucid case for the position that you're trying to get some member to adopt. so we are seeing a kind of measure of kind of work that lobbyists want done with things that are happening out in the policy development arena. so another important question, our think tanks becoming too mercenary? make sure that we know who is funding what, and who is caring
whose water. but finally i will just say that, you do, from my point of view i would echo some of mike's point. maybe the proliferation of think tanks is the basing of the currency of what they produce, but you can usually tell quality in any marketplace. this is just a very open dynamic entrepreneurial marketplace with low barriers to entry. and the capacity that sometimes find fault on your own side, independent analysis that just isn't pushing the party line or an agenda. you know, the capacity to surprise, not be predictable. these other things, you know, that one should look for in evaluating think tanks. my guess is that those who pass a certain level of analytical rigor are going to be in this for the long haul, and we will see a lot of the other would fall by the wayside. thank you. [applause]
>> thank you very much, will, and all of you. i want to say a few words speaking as a member of the old school of think tankers, and i have in mind brookings, rand, hudson, a guy, hoover. i care a lot about the research that they do, because i believe that back in that earlier era, they were responsible for an important innovation in the organization of creative intellectual activity. and that it is important to sustain what they achieved in this new and different era we are in today. it's true that some of them, especially aei am hoover, where
conservative. they attracted people who were politically conservative, brilliant intellectuals but essentially unwelcome to on the campuses because of their political views. but that obscures i think something else that was more important in the creation of the think tank, and it covers those such as brookings and rand, and i think especially hudson, that have less of a philosophical edge at their foundations. and that is that they created, that the think tank that they created was distinctive was to come for into ways. first, the research was done from some common philosophical premises, more or less explicit. in any event the research that was being done was much more purposeful. it had a practical into it. it was not just the veritas of
university research. secondly, it was practical applied research of a form, it was very different from what had been, what was under way even in the policy related departments in the universities and in the academic world. and this was a point that herman kahn, our father, emphasized with great force. that when one is thinking seriously about applied policy questions, one has to take into account the enormous uncertainty and ambiguity of government action and of the extreme contentiousness, political contentiousness that surrounds every decision made in this world of uncertainty that one is in when one is in the government. so after think tanks we are working without the simplifying
assumptions and the explanatory parsimonious miss that are the hallmarks of academic research. we are attempting to come up with useful knowledge that can be used toward practical political and. we are not simply trying to enlarge the sum total of human knowledge. we're actually trying to achieve something practical. this was new. and i know from my years from managing a think tank that maintaining it requires a complicated balancing act. the people who could do this research must be very knowledgeable, realistic about politics, but being too close to being in politics itself is dangerous. i often would advise especially younger people that were
interested in policy that they had to spend some time in government. you could simply not know how terrible, how difficult, how unbelievably having to make fast decisions in a complete fog, you cannot know what it's like lecturing about. you actually have to do it. at the same time i always made a point of having people at aei who had no interest in going into government. herman kahn, he did a lot of work for the defense department. i'm quite confident he never held a position in government, and the idea would've been completely laughable. at aei with people like ben wattenberg and jeane kirkpatrick who had worked in politics and in government, but we also had many people and people that did much of our most important work, irving kristol, charles murray, michael novak, who had never
been in politics. they were students of politics, they applied what they understood to be the difficulties of the political world, but they had no ambitions for being part of politics. i don't think that those of us who are adherents of the old school who are part of the old school of think tanks ought to feel threatened. we certainly should not look down our nose at the newer groups that have come along and are operating much closer to the edge of political action. it's a free country, in any event, still a rotelle free country where the first amendment is concerned. people are perfectly free to adopt different strategies in the kind of thing that we do. at the same time i do believe that there are trade-offs and,
emphasizing marketing, communication skills and getting closer to politics, does have its costs and dangers as a matter of strategy. i want to distinguish between the title of the session, are they to political. i want to emphasize to gossiping to political. one is operating very closer to the older think tanks to to operating -- some particular workout political doctrine. and distinguish that from operating very close to a media partisan politics. use the example of heritage, which we've talked about, and also bring in the cato institute. heritage, not only got and outflanked aei back in the late '70s and early '80s, by being much better at marketing, just using anecdotes that tevi
gives us, but it also was explicitly a conservative movement institution. it did have something close to the official decisions. the research that it did always had to come out and to show how it fit into the conservative movement. it set itself up as the oracle of what the conservative movement stood for and was attempting to achieve. it is, it was a movement organization. cato is a great organization. it's not so much that you like to be a political movement, but they are not. they belong to the libertarian creed. everything that they do fits into that. it emphasizes the virtues of libertarianism, and all of its work fits into that template. when you move that close to
having a doctrine, you're going to sacrifice something in the research that you do. intellectual work is inherently individualistic. you cannot have it to be too much of a hierarchy where work has to be filtered and unfiltered and filtered before it can come out. i think that these, cato, heritage, those that have much more of a sense of those all-purpose, i think that they've achieved some very important things. i think that preaching to the choir is important. i think that showing how research fits into a particular set of views, organize and use in the political world, is extremely valuable. i think that they will do, i think that, i know that they had enormous, the competition was very useful for aei. it approved our marketing worked
very substantially. i don't think a guy will ever marketings as well as heritage does, but i don't think heritage will produce as much original arresting, creative research as aei does. so there is a trade off there. i am frankly uncertain of the terms of the trade off because i can see some cases today where institutions are doing, i mean, heritage and cato have both done some very distinguished original work, there's no denying that. i'm particularly and press by foundation that trinity does not mention, and that is the reason foundation in los angeles. and is at once the home of bob poole who does the most important original research on surface transportation, air transportation, air security, airline security, amazingly good work. he is a leading expert in the
country. he does tremendous original work. people across the spectrum looked at him as an authoritative source. and at the same time, reason has produced what is to me the most successful example of new media communications, recent tv which also is the vantage of being completely hilarious your and its viewership, i don't know what the numbers are. i think it's viewership dominates everybody up here in the panel, everything we're doing. so reason that somehow enabled to combine original research with marketing pizzazz to every admirable degree. i think that when one moves beyond a set of political doctrines or ideology to the media partisan politics, one is getting into a very dangerous territory. several people, i think michael
especially, emphasized that heritage and cato never hesitate to criticize. heritage in the reagan administration was a firm critic of ronald reagan. in many cases where he was straying as a prodigal matter of conservative doctrine. cato of course is very critical of everybody all the time. [laughter] it used to infuriate me in the bush 43 administration the people would sometimes described aei as the cat's claw of the bush administration. we were very close to them. we had many, many people serving in senior positions in the administration, but if you looked at aei's work product on a day-to-day basis, it was extremely critical. we never pulled our punches. and, in fact, one of my jobs was to field angry telephone calls and letters -- i won't say whom,
but very, very senior people in the administration who were furious about what we were doing. when you get too close to partisan politics in our business, the suspicion arises that your work is simply being tapered to those who want to acquire and maintain power. and that's a very, very dangerous thing. i think that cap in its early years has water too far in that direction. i'm not certain of this but i would be very surprised -- i do not know of a case where cap has been strongly critical of anything that the obama administration has done. [inaudible] >> i'll give you a chance. when i visit their website, it looks to me, i'm a, it is researching, their people talk
about research they have done. some of it is not particularly close to immediate politics, but there are always supported the very much like the white house website. they are very much on message. and i think that that is a great danger. neera gave us two examples of work that they had done, both work during the bush administration when they were in opposition. the real, it's fun to be in opposition. you know, you have a lot of independents. when your friends are on the inside, that is the real test of your independence. she said a couple, i'm interested to hear what she says in response. she gave a couple of examples of how the work is becoming more variegated. reputation is everything in this business. i'm not the only person that has this impression of cap's work. everyone at cap much untapped must know this and i suspect they will evolve in him much
greater degree of independence over time. my big concerns are these two. these institutions are hard to sustain, and sustain the kind of research that i described briefly at the beginning is very, very difficult. my big concerns are not so much that we have all of these new people coming in on the left and on the right, but that first of all, the changes in our politics due to changes in media, communications technology have, let me put it this way, they have created such a premium on creating the appearance that our problems have cleared, simple solutions, at that the only reason we have not adopted them is the genie out of and skulduggery of people on the other side. the wrongness of our political
readiness is pretty, pretty remarkable. we now have the head of the democratic national committee system, republicans want to bring back racial segregation in america. the rhetoric in the political world has become so heated, and in many cases, a responsible. i think it's something that if you're trying to think with some disinterestedness you have to keep a low bit of distance from. secondly, so many of the think tanks have come to washington. i mean, it really has become a hothouse. there are some good organizations outside. los angeles has the reason foundation, claremont nearby, there's the manhattan institute, the pacific research institute, universities like hoover in stanford and the medicine center at princeton have, these are independence sources of criticism and thought. but i think it's very important,
i think that it's risky that there's so many think tanks that are in this political hothouse of washington where it could become more and more difficult to sustain the really, really important work that we do. so i just want to say that the ambition of being able to think about the politics, about how we can achieve solutions that are compatible with the contentiousness of our politics, the diversity of our political community is enormously important. i don't think it's bombast but i think the work we do is tremendously important. so that those of us in think tanks, on the left, on the right, have to realize that our purpose is not to be in politics, not go along for the ride, but to improve our respective parties and to improve the political system as
a whole. and if we keep that in mind, that's our best protection. so those are my thoughts, and we are going to now turn to the panel. and i'm going, i think we will start with neera because you said you wanted to say something. why don't you talk and then i will go back to tevi. [applause] >> you know, let me say a few things about progressive or conservative orthodoxy. because i think that is, i think michael mentioned the importance of being able to criticize your friends, and i think that is important, but it's also really important to be able to put out ideas that are not in the quote unquote mainstream. and we'll mention an important element of think tanks, which is to be able to put out ideas that political leaders are too timid in the political process is too
timid to respond to, and to create that space. and that allows them to adopt those ideas. and that is the essential part of our mission. so, you know, i think that like yourself i have received numerous calls from the obama administration, on occasion with said things that are critical. and, of course, we do have a progressive viewpoint, so those items that we criticize loudly, like michael to say, the inverse that heritage, if not upon her, at least in silence put out. the most often times have been the center for american progress will be on the cover of the front page of the new times is when we are critical of the obama administration. that has happened several times. climate legislation, our scholars our scholars and ideas on what policies should be
adopted, and they share those with the paper. and in each one of those times i've received angry phone calls from the administration and i say what i always say, which is that we are an independent think tank and we have views on policy and they're not always going to align with the obama administration. but beyond this position of their particular use, cap has put her postals on social security, that many progressive organizations have criticized us for. we have a long-standing relationship on education reform with the u.s. chamber of commerce and aei itself. in the past around teacher pay and the importance of reforming teacher pay, and i would say that i think, i think it's too often we make a distinction between older organizations and the things that they have done and this newer crowd of organizations. because i think some of the
issues tevi has raised really have occurred in a variety of organizations. center for american progress has never fired or let go a person because of ideological incoherence with the organization. that has happened at aei with david from. we have never, we have never come you know, we have a wide variety of thinking that goes from the center to the very last. and we separate that, and one way that we thought that was critical for center for american progress to be great was to have a good rich debate on particular ideas. we don't write or read ever before. we don't have a team that reads every report. we do choose where different teams that have different views, we put those out and explained why they have different views, because we defeated at the end of the day, as i started my remarks, ideas are the most important thing.
we believe in, we have a view of being progressive but we are not, not to be doctrinaire when the facts change around policy, we acknowledge that. and say that we acknowledge that we were wrong, on occasion. so, i think for an organization to stand the test of time, it has to ensure that it is putting ideas front and center, and that that is the most critical element him and i believe we do that. and i will let it go. thank you very much. tevi, do you want -- >> first i would like to thank all the panelists for the really thoughtful remarks, and, obviously, they've all read my article carefully and i really appreciate the responses. i have to say a special word for chris demuth. there's a danger to having a moderator who knows more about the subject that all the panelists, especially some who have been at it longer.
the best known person on the panel is usually the least prepared. that was clean up the case this instance. chris put a lot of thought into mark's and i applaud that. i agree with neera on her comment that think tanks have become more important than ever, and i think it's possible that you can perhaps, the future of thinking to be more important and more political, but i also think there's a danger that increased politicization can harm a think tanks. so we will see how that plays out in the years to come. i don't have a problem with think tanks having a political point of view. think tanks, probably think tanks having marketing arms. although i thought will's question was telling, how think tanks have become to dash that we torture people and think tank world and i've heard this, talk about the scholar to marker ratio, then you know that there's a real focus on marketing and different characters of different think
tanks. the character think i think it's also important. chris said that there's a feel, that he said they feel like they're kind of defending one side or beating the drum a little too hard. you know, it's sort of like the comment about pornography and the supreme court. you know what when you see. there isn't a field two papers in various think tank you can go in certain think tanks are banging the drum a little too hard one respect or another. and i'm not calling out cap alone on the. i'm saying that is something you see, and reputation is important in the business, and reputations are developed over time. neera said something about the newer think tanks versus the older think tanks. i do think that some distinctions to be made, but i think all think tanks are most think tanks have evolved over time and make changes over time. and you see some the things i talk about that happen to older think tanks, not just those young whippersnappers that i'm
trying to convey. will made another couple of points i want to address how think tanks kind of like to have their ideas embraced, but the question is will they be. and one experience that i've seen, and i talk with people who have been in the obama administration, if you're inside the bush administration and heritage rights a paper praise worthy of your policy, the communities will save with india demonstration do you have on other think tank that will praise yourself. and simile with cap the obama administration my said to have another think tank that will praise? there's this sense that these people are so undecided doesn't help to have their research bakula. it doesn't foster your point or bolster your argument. will also mentioned the bipartisan think tank which i talk about a little bit in my peace. for the most part i think that there is a marketing opportunity, growth opportunity a bipartisan think tank. i don't think the current bipartisan think tanks have kind of hit that note right, and they
seem to be, from my perspective, they seem to be kind of liberal organizations for the most part, but they have some conservative people on board. and i know at least one think tank, i've been talking to, they have their own racial of how many conservatives they can have to the majority of liberals. the blurring of the line, lobbying, a couple of people have mentioned to me. in an interesting piece, not that i welcome the something were looking at, but i just want to close, i agree with exact with my, it is the threshold question. are you going to allow people to different points of view within a think tank or are you going to have party line. mike explained why heritage takes the perspective that they do, but there should be one position, and that could be damaging to the organization if you different perspectives on trade policy or military policy
or whatnot coming out of the same organization. so i agree with mike that that is the threshold question but i'd be on the other side of the threshold. i remember i sort cut my teeth at aei, i did take his advice and go into government because i think it does give you a different perspective on how government works. but the economist table at aei was impotent revving people that were absurd and republican and generally sympathetic to the same point of view, that we would have really knockdown drag-out articles about trade, arguments about free trade and about immigration. and you see this in the papers and there was no sense that i had for my perspective at aei, aei was saying you can't see this or you can say that, or that one person's argument about free trade is better than the other. so i kind of lost that -- law but that aspect. i think it's an important piece of making a think tank that kind
of organization that is what respect on both sides of the aisle, even if it's not agree with him both sides of the aisle. that's why agree with mike, that's a threshold question. >> mike, nick. >> thank you. thanks again for the panel. on tevi the last point i would just add that when we have our kind of cross-pollination internal discussions, windows issues do arise, most times it benefits all the analysts who no matter what their original discipline is because they tend to see angles and aspects of their own work that they may not have appreciated until they had with the national security aspect might be or what immigration debate cause the folks in homeland security to look at the guys were free market economists and compare notes and understand they were competing value of the work, and maybe there's actually a way to recognize -- reconcile those values. maybe that's no way sank the heritage for a long time adhered maybe to what buckley and the
"national review" in the early days believe the buckley talked about with confucianism. the whole is greater than the sum of the part when you confuse the different traditions of conservative thinking into a coherent final results. and the other thing i'll just mention is that in politicization, sometimes what may look at first it's a political kind of injection into political process is done for the opposite end result it and i'll give you an example. this past year heritage invested some time and resources, traveled a bit to do panel discussion before some of the republican presidential debates. and the whole point of that was to invite journalists who are covering the debates and some activist and think tanks from those respective states like new hampshire or iowa, or of all places, like las vegas. to basically try to convince them to cover substance and not
succumb to the temptation to let god you questions or the horserace aspects of presidential race trump what really was important there. so we're trying to inject ourselves into part of the public a process to try to pull them out of the worst features of the political process and try to elevate what we felt was really, really important. ultimate that led to a heritage-aei presidential do that here in washington focus on foreign policy which a lot of a lot of people think was the most sensitive of all these what, 5000 debates that they've had so far. i want to make the point is sometime had to jump into that process in order to extract them from it so they can maybe look at lawmakers and candidates a look at what's really important. >> will? >> you know, we are talking about things that are happening in the think tank world but is was a microcosm what happened in the political world in general. and so i guess a good question is what obligation to think
tanks have to push back against the tribalism, the creation of separate zones of partisan truth, and lack of communication between the two sides as the kind of, you were talking about the sorting out, proceeds, i think tanks going to be brought into the kind of partisan theater that is washington at a friend of my, a member of congress who will be nameless called it a low rated reality tv show last night or can think tanks push against these tribalistic dynamics. and try to ground the debate. can we defend the reality rental in the political debate. i think the answers would have to or otherwise why are we in this business. since there's been some criticism about progressive, let me just say there's a highly ideological style of debate and argument that we have seen in congress and in the country. we see it on the campaign trail, that is abstracted from the
actual details of policy. i saw this strikingly during the great debate over obamnicare. you know, i was listening to the opposition and i did have an argument against the obama health care bill. i heard an argument against government takeover of health care. i heard of it etiological oppositions. i did hear a real analysis of the details of what's wrong with this bill, why won't it work, why, why to its constituents hearts at after some kind of illegitimate, improper expansion of federal power. sort of the broad etiological strokes. so i would say because conservative think tanks make a lot, get a, might make a strong point that they're not republican think tanks but they are trying to inform and raise the quality of thought in the conservative movement, you've got some work to do. just as progressive think tanks have to do on our side and pushing back against tribal
truths that were often asked just legitimate or ratify without analysis. thank you, will. we're going to open up the conversation to questions and discussion from the whole audience. we've got plenty of time. we have 40 minutes to devote to it, if people have that much to say. as most of you know, c-span is with us today. i'd like to ask, after a call on you, if you please wait until the roving microphone arrives, and then entered as yourself briefly before asking your question. we will start with dr. biden. >> hi, i'm doug five here at the institute. thank you all for extremely interesting remarks. one has the impression that there is a lot of money behind
pretty much any position on any major issue. and a just curious if someone has some facts about the amount of money that goes into different think tanks. there were some comments made about think tanks being a conservative preserve i mean, is that really true? would one say that the resources are spread generally, unicom evenly between left and right? or you know, does ones that have a particular advantage in this kind of public policy research? >> i'll give you an example. i would argue that depend on the policy area, especially something like seti health care. the balance of resources is heavily weighted towards left of center research. and examples would be, one puts
him or care team, at the time for by policy experts were looking at the resources available for the commonwealth fund, kaiser foundation. they turned out papers every day that a very detailed that they fund researchers, create -- at great expense, all kind of detailed stuff out every aspect of health care system, and they inject right into the public policy making process, those panels and everything, but are they think tanks are not? we see them as research institutions that are just like think tanks. they have a very, very big effect on the public policy debate, and they felt a few guys and gals on the right he works turning out fewer papers and had less resources to bring to bear in that process. i think if you go across the spectrum, it may vary according to the issue area, that we felt some of the huge entities out there that have been around for a long time, we tend not to think of as think tanks.
in fact, we haven't mentioned it today, our considering in answering that question. >> so on health care, i wouldn't consider kaiser but this is probably -- i consider them partisan, more ideological, nonpartisan. i would say if you look at the organizations that are so subject of tevi analysis, ppi and cap are i think the only multi-issue, multi-issue ideologically associated organizations, and, of course, on the right is heritage, aei, conservative cato. our budgets are dwarfed by their budgets. so in terms of institutions that work across issues of national security as most other folks is,
i think you did that level of analysis you would see that the left or center left remains. but i hear the point of some organizations on particular issues have a big role as well. >> tevi? >> unlike chris, neera, will, i'm not raising money. i will note that bill would be excellent to speak about this. there's been a lot of talk over the years about how many of the top foundations are skewed to the left, there was only a couple of lesser resource conservative foundations that help create the conservative movement. but i think there's also an issue of intellectual research, and there was a time when it was pretty clear that the left was outgunned intellectually in the '70s and '80s when these conservative think tanks, because of something chris touched on which his conservatives either were not welcomed or didn't feel
welcomed, or both, on the university campuses. a lot of them came into the think tanks, arbitrage opportunity for intellectuals or conservative intellectuals at that time, and i think the left has worked hard to try to catch up by this order was that initial area where you had conservatives who had that advantage. i do want to say one thing on this front on the conservative arch woodside, on health care something that i thought it pretty carefully. i will agree with you that there's some people who did take that name-calling approach in the health care debate. but you also had some really smart substitute people who did take a look at the bill and went piece by piece, not ideologically, that really went fact by fact. one of the people in this room. so i would not condemn all conserve health care analyst. i would add if i could do during this floor debate there were times when even u.s. senators were substantive and that.
[laughter] orrin hatch and john cornyn i think mattered a very serious effort to educate that their colleagues about the cost is not of individual mandate. for example. there's a lot of series of amendment offered and considered in the senate debate. it wasn't all just rhetoric. i think will the point in general is a very good one, that there's a lot of talk and a very different level, not as much key analysis done at the ground level. but i think will was talking about the practice of politics, political writer, as opposed to -- >> but my point is there were moments in the debates where there is a issues. once in a while. >> in answer to ducks question, i would say that one always thinks the competition, whether of a different ideology or just different organization, the other guys always have the most money. my view is that i think it's
different in marketing communications, but when it comes to the core work of doing original important research, i think that the resource constraint is very much human resources as opposed to financial resources. i never felt in all of my, as i look around at all of the think tanks on both sides of the aisle, it seems to me that the tough thing is finding people that have the unusual mix of abilities to devote their careers to this sort of thing, and that if you can find those people, -- >> steve hayward. >> tevi, this may be a little awkward because having taking after your brother a few years ago i risk starting a family feud by taking after you. but i do want to launch a missile at you for you to respond to, and for the rest of
the panel to decide if you want to take you back or pylon. it seems to me there's two problems here. the subtext of the title, or the premise of this panel are think tanks become too political. it seems me there's an empirical problem and a theoretical problem the empirical problem is its structure. we live in a time when everything is becoming more politicized. this week it is school lunches in north carolina. last week it was a super bowl car commercial, for god's sake. not the first what has become a matter of political controversy. is there a way of doing a rigorous quantitative analysis of the politicization of society? i wouldn't be surprised if i think tanks actually lagged under things have gone on in society. we don't have the data for the. i don't think we'd get it in a way we can recent recognized so we have to go to the theoretical problem. so to close. won the high and low. slight paraphrase of churchill said the distinction between politics and policy diminishes as the point of view is raise.
at the summit he's a true politics and policy are one. the distinction between pure policy analysis and politics is one i think is unsustainable. the proof of that would be the low example which, i think there's no republican way to pay the street and there's a democratic way to pave the street. i may have been true once. not to anymore. there is a difference. and so for example, the heritage foundation put onto paper, i'm sure they put out several saying the best way to pave the roads is to privatize and and contracted out the weight indiana's biggest apartment and progress could put on paper, may have done so say know there's reasons why that penny-wise and pound-foolish is why this sensible reasons of accountability and cordy control wise to stay a public sector function. cap is siding with the public employee unions. that's easy to do. take the idea seriously, stand on their own, perfectly possible point of view the second is a marketing product in the old days if you had that argument it
would take a month between cap and heritage plaque, the letters to the end of "the new republic" or the "washington post" but it would be genteel and take a month to fly a rapid today we have 15 rounds of that argument by lunchtime. so here's my challenge. is this a bad thing? take the issue this week all the networks right now and talk about high gasoline. do we really want of a world where the news media, that he will talk about this, are taking the talking points and it seems around the american petroleum institute and the sierra club and on capitol hill? ..
>> i am a progressive in this sense, i'm for progress. i like to see better technology. [laughter] i like to see more outlets for think tank writers to be out there to say things. when i first started in this business, working again for chris at aei, if you were conservative and you had something to say and you didn't get it in "the wall street journal," national review, you were done. and now you have all sorts of outlets. i think that's a good thing. so i agree with you that arguments can be had out in the public sphere faster, and i don't have a problem with that. in terms of the question of whether think tanks lag on politicization, i'd say they probably do, and that's a good thing. but the question is, by how much do they lag, and how long will they continue to lag, and are they moving politically faster towards the rest of this society which i don't always like what i see when people are screaming about whether clint eastwood can
have a super bowl commercial that talks about car companies. so i don't disdegree with some of your -- disagree with some of your comments, but i stand by my initial premise that think tanks have become more political over time, and it is something to be watched and something that could be dangerous. >> yes, sir. thank you. this gentleman right here. >> yes, my name is howard rosen, i'm with the peterson institute for international economics and was involve inside helping start that institute 30 years ago, so i'm very interested in the whole issue of think tanks as institutions. i think, tevi, that you raise a very interesting issue, but i have to admit that, um, i think the article which i hope was there to kind of raise an idea and see people's responses, but certainly this discussion, i think, really reflects what the problem is. and that is that, you know, there are names for everything, but, you know, what we call research has really been, you know, elastic the last few
decades. and what's amend is we've moved a lot -- happened is we've moved a lot into commentary rather than research. the feel was when i was coming into this 30 years ago there was a difference between advocacy and independent research. now we've devalued further, so i can't even see that we would call any of this research, and, in fact, doug pointed to the problem when he said does anyone up there have any facts? there was not one fact that was presented today. but i think, tevi, to your credit you're raising the issue for me raises a lot of questions. and that is, number one, so if this is the case, if there's been a change in the nature of the output from think tanks, what's the implication of that? and those things we may not be able to test it empirically, but we can test it qualitatively is one question. number two is has there been shifts in the nature of funding
for these kinds of organizations? we have data on that. the first example i would give and one of, i think, a very important development which wasn't raised here was the fact that 30, 40 years ago, 30 years ago the federal government got out of the business of doing policy research. and the government itself now does advocacy research. so if we want to do fair evaluations of policies and the government can't do it itself, you know, who does it? so what's happened to government research on policy, what's happening to the funding on those? what's happening to the composition of the funding in the private sector? it used to be very concentrated heavily from foundations because we had a tax rule on them that they had to disperse 10% of their earnings. so they had to put it somewhere. and that's what created a lot of organizations. but, first of all, we've had changes in the stock market return now so some foundations are not doing as well as before, but we've also seen this shift
towards corporate and private money. so there's an empirical question which is has the shift towards funding, towards more corporate and private funding shifted, have an effect on the nature of the output of these organizations? um, i think these are critically important questions because, um, and i don't care who you put in the universe of who's a think tank or what piece of research you decide is research or not, um, but the question is if we believe these organizations, these operations have some impact, i think it's fair to ask. and there is a major, a major policy issue here which, tevi, you raised but no one really focused on and that is that we give a tax exemption to this. and the question is, to what extent is that tax exemption, you know, how serious is that -- i mean, you know, there are, we can judge that empirically. how much federal revenue are we losing by allowing organizations to do, to put out blogs or, you
know, daily newsletters that look very much like a private organization might do like kaiser or something like that? and to what extent are these think tanks starting to look like journalists? and the press pays, you know, journalism pays taxes, why doesn't this part of the economy pay taxes? i just want to end very briefly, so i think that's the serious policy question. i know personally every year when they put out a survey of the salaries, and usually it's the salaries of the top people at these think tanks, i have to say personally i'm appalled when i see some of these incredibly large salaries in million dollar figures at what's called, quote, nonprofits who are getting tax exemptions. i mean, i think we should really come up to the bar and ask ourselves, you know, the real questions. and let me just end with a, with a specific case. we -- and i should have said this at the outset. the peterson institute, you
know, people used to think that we were above this fray because international issues were not as partisan as other things. of course, we all know that's no longer the case. and so that's why we're concerned about it too. we're now looking -- >> please conclude. >> i am. >> thank you. >> we're now doing a study looking at what effect the debate had on a certain policy which is trade policy and globalization. to what extent have we, the think tanks who are throwing around the numbers of how many jobs it was going to create or not create or whatever, how many -- to what extent has the debate itself affected public opinion towards the issue? and we may be in a situation where the fight, the internal washington fight has now turned back, turned against us and public opinion is now moving against globalization only because of the food fight that people saw. and that becomes a serious question. >> i wanted to respond to a few things that you said.
and raised. first of all, on salaryies by these think tanks, i can assure folks that cap isn't anywhere close to a million dollars, so i welcome everyone to look at that. [laughter] you know, my family might not think it's so great, but it is overall a great thing. you raise a number of serious issues, one i think is diverse spending generally, and i do think it's critical to have diversity because it's, you know, there are interests allied with funding, and it's important to balance that out. and any organization that disproportionately relies on one source of funding or one kind of funding can end up speaking to that funding, you know? and that is a challenge overall. that's something we work on to insure we've diversified our
funding and that we're not dependent on any single donor or any kind of particular set of funds either. but i do, i would very much disagree with this idea, um, about the research role declining. and i take the point very seriously. there is, in many ways, too much commentary coming out of think tanks. we focus -- i'm pushing all our teams to focus more on analysis and less on commentary, but there is a lot of commentary out there. i would say that they're, you know, having recently just served in the government and served ten years ago, there is an incredibly vital role to government policymakers to depend on the research and analysis of outside think tanks. and that role has not declined or increased in the time that i, in the last ten years or 12 years that i served in the clinton administration and the obama white house. you know, you still need that research, and it is taking place. and i think it's too, it's too
dismissive to think that think tanks aren't offering that analysis and research and new policy ideas and that there isn't a vital role taking place and also that the federal government itself has each of these departments has their own research and analysis. sometimes they're, you know, frankly slower than think tanks out in the world and haven't addressed new policy issues the way think tanks have. so i think it paints with too broad a brush to think that that research role has declined. and, you know, the challenge we have, and i think it's really important for people to understand, the information changes so quickly in governance today, and the conversation -- the number of issues that pop up in a white house today versus five years ago, ten years ago, fifteen years ago, the media conglomeration of these issues, issues pop up very quickly. you need lots of resources for
analytics and research, and that is a vital role think tanks are playing and continue to play, and i think we should recognize it as grown in importance as the need for information has grown. >> will? >> go ahead. >> just real quick. >> oh, ils. >> okay. don't lose a distinction between what we at heritage would call a foundational paper on a policy area and then everything that's derivative of that. sometimes, basically, the delive tyes will not say what's in the foundation because the foundational paper may be boring, a lot of footnotes, has an appendix a and b, but it yields op-eds, blog posts, shorter derivative papers, it yields media appearances that drive the findings and the ideas in that foundational paper. so the scholarship ought to be at the root of all these derivative activities that people tend to see on a day-to-day basis, and i think that's essential to the integrity and the credibility of think tanks.
heritage, just fyi, we invite 700,000 donors, and that gives us an independence. we have most of our budget coming in from ordinary americans who go to heritage.org, click on a couple of mouse clicks, and they're giving us money, okay? we get some money from foundation and a very small percentage from corporate sources, and that gives our scholars an independence when they approach issues that might not be there if yo get a lot of your money from just one source. i think that's part of it. you have to have independence and these foundational papers that can yield all the other products that we generate. >> you raise a lot of great questions, and i'll just comment quickly on a few of them. i think you put your finger on a problem that is both the thurm of think tanks, the proliferation, a crowded, noisy marketplace, and it gets harder to be heard, so there's a premium on digesting thicks, boiling them down, getting to the nut graph, right? and getting it out fast before somebody else does because you've got so many competitors.
you know, so that's pressure on the account of the primary research and analytical admission of any think tank. you have to bhans it, and mike makes a good distinction. but we're all facing that pressure, competing in that marketplace, and, you know, the lines between commentary and empirically-based argument are being blurred n. the digital age, any digital scribbler can be a think tank unto himself or herself. get on wikipedia and get the facts you need, and you've got a 600-word piece out, and you're competing on an even footing with the mighty heritage foundation. [laughter] at least momentarily. but, you know, the think tanks play a very important role of validating ideas and lending weight to them based on their track records. you know, these brands are important and preserving them, i presume, is important to the people who run the think tanks. secondly, fascinating question about the tax deduction, you know, what is the public mission of think tanks, and do they
deserve this -- [laughter] that's a good one. i think i'll mostly punt on that one except to say why don't we just call them all deduction foundations as a friend of mine once said. [laughter] so i understand. but my guess is that the same people who fund most of the think tanks would find a way to fund think tanks even if they couldn't deduct their donations. any of us who have worked in c4 organizations have found that, i mean, it's the same donor universe, right? so i don't think that would be, i don't think that would be inseparable. >> i mean, can i just add? there's a public role for what these institutions are doing. i might not agree with what heritage did on welfare reform, but it was an important contribution to the debate that heritage did that. so i think it's not just a structure, you know, it's not like there's no argument for why these institutions should have a 501c3. maybe we're particularly invested in it, but the idea is
that you're having an impact on public policy and changing the debate and discussion and providing ideas to policymakers, it seems to me an important public service. >> yeah. i wasn't commenting on merits of the case, i us with just saying i don't think it makes as much difference as you, perhaps, think it does. and lastly, you know, if you want to get rich, don't go into a think tank business. laugh there are a lot better ways to do it. you know, it's good that we know what everybody makes, but it's not that lucrative a career path for people. [laughter] >> i agree that the tax assumption is not particularly important. if it went away, i think the institutions would survive and continue pretty much as they are. the cost structure is a little different, but notice that, um, the nation, the new republic, national review and the weekly standard are all for-profit, taxable organizations. not that they've ever made any money -- [laughter] >> right. >> but they're not not for
profits. yes, sir, this gentleman right -- this gentleman in the third row. then i'll move back. >> hi. chris greene with "newsweek" daily beast. i'm just wondering that one of the elephants in the room when discussing the devaluing of the think tank isn't just whether think tanks are seen as marketing organ, but a devaluing of the research that they produce and the actual analysis they produce in service of their mission. the best example i can think of this would be maybe two years ago or a year ago when the heritage foundation released its analysis of the paul ryan budget which said it would reduce unemployment to 2.8%, and that was widely mocked in media and other circles. isn't the concern here not that you just get involved in politics, but by getting involved in politics, it effects the research and the quality of research you do? and i think another point i wait to make about the advantage of a think tank compared to academic institutions is always meant
you're meant to have more academic freedom, but you belief that would provide you with the freedom you would want to have anyways, so i'm just wondering how you see think tanks resolving -- >> let me respond to that. robert rector was with widely ridiculed in the early '90s when he argued if you have work requirements and other forms of personal responsibility injected into welfare, you might see the roles come down maybe by 30% or 40%. i think they came down by 70%. so the 2.8% thing, projection, we don't have the ryan budget, so we're never really going to know that. but i would just say it's important to b able to look -- to be able to look at large, complicated proposals and analyze them and offer up what you think is your best, you know, analysis of it. and think tanks do it all the time, and i don't see how you can actually criticize something that never came to pass, frankly. >> let me address the academic freedom point briefly. i just completely disbrie --
disagree with the notion that tenure leads to academic freedom. reilly wrote something on in this recently. i got a ph.d. at the university of texas, i'm shot exactly a full -- i'm not exactly a full bastion of liberalism. it was still pretty liberal, and at one point one of my fellow graduates students came up to me and said is it true you've written for national review? i said, yeah, and he said i'm conservative too, but i don't let anybody know. >> now you know what it's like for liberals in -- [inaudible] [laughter] >> so there's definitely a sense on campuses that even if you could get tenure, maybe -- first of all, you might not be able to get tenured if you are of a conservative bent, and that's why these think tanks are so welcoming, but we talk about the stifling atmosphere, that there's a perception of these are acceptable positions that if
you go outside that acceptable position, you will be ostracized in the department even if you do have tenure. so i think think tanks have served an important purpose giving people an opportunity to have their say. >> i don't think the tenure is about academic freedom. i think the tenure is middle-aimed burnout insurance. [laughter] and i think it's going away. i think it's going the way of the defined benefit plan and the higher ed revolution that stuart butler writes about in the same issue of national affairs. so i think we'll actually see the think tanks were in the a haven't guard -- avant-garde. >> actually, i'm going to go way to the back. and then i'll come back. we've got time. >> i'm michael horowitz at the hudson institute, and i want to enter in the, the anden/demuth
discussion about whether progressive think tanks tend to spike the guns when dealing with difference in power. i tell you my experience leads me to come down on the demuth side. i work on a variety of human rights issues, trafficking, north korea policy, internet freedom policy, and i find it easier when i want to show coalition support to get the reform, jews and southern baptists, than to find a progressive think tank joining a conservative think tank. take the recent trip of the vice president of china here. great question about whether some of the activists in jail, religious and other activists in jail should have been spoken up for. once again there was a letter co-signed by the national association of evangelicals and the reformed jews.
once again, i couldn't find anybody at progressive think tanks to take that sort of thing on. on trafficking issues i was able to find the national organization for women and concerned women for america. i didn't hear from progressive think tanks. now, maybe it's a problem of your not reaching out enough or us not doing it, but i think in terms of credibility, in terms of smoothing the hard edges of the political debate, i think you've got an awful lot more to do here. and i want to raise one other question that broadly touches on it which is that in my experience i find the left much more reluctant to criticize their friends in power than the right has been. i wonder what you, whether you think that's true, and my last point is to accept everything i said so far as progressive think tanks and to say that i've never seen a think tank take a bigger pounding from their friends than
will marshall and al from. you really write the book in terms of being independent, and i just wish there were more liberal think tanks like you. >> um, i have to say i do think a lot of this is, you know, where you stand is where you sit. and, you know, i think in terms of our positions and issues we have a general policy which is that we do not sign as many letters as other folks, but on the actual substance of human rights in china we've written with extensively on this, we've pushed the administration on i issues of human rights throughout not just in china, but in other parts of the world where the administration has taken perhaps a more real politic position than we would support. we've typewritten on that extensive -- we've written with on that extensively. so, you know, i think there's always a challenge between when you have progressive, you know,
when the administration in power shares the broad ideology that we do, but we -- that any organization does. you're not going to, perhaps, see as much criticism but, you know, i can attest to, again, the number of times that we've been criticized for taking on particular senators who were democrats, particularly members of congress who were democrats and taking on this president. now, we, we are a progressive organization, and is so, you know, in many ways there are many instances where the president has taken a progressive policy stance, and we've argued for a progressive policy stance that he's taken. so we may not criticize him in each and every case and certainly won't as much as heritage. but the bottom line is we're an organization that, you know, has particular views in policy, and where we agree we say it, and where we disagree we say it as well. >> thank you.
um, i'd like to, i'd like to talk about -- my name's peter, by the way. i'd like to talk about the donor think tank, particularly the research program of a think tank relationship. um, it may be that a think tank has hundreds of thousands of donors, but all donors are not created equal. some give much more money than others. and they have what i believe to be is a precipitous impact on the research agenda of a think tank and on the work products of that research agenda. two examples, you may say they're isolated, or they may be the tip of the iceberg that we happen mono about. david fromm at aei was dismissed because he wrote a couple op-ed pieces critical to the tilt to have extreme right of the republican party, and i had a conversation with bruce bartlett, also formerly of aei, who told me he was dismissed because hi book on reaganomics
was not -- >> [inaudible] >> thank you. >> [inaudible] >> would you like to -- >> i'll address the donor issue. the way we handle things at heritage is when we solicit support for somebody, we sell our mission, we sell our approach to the world. they tend to have any individual donor's going to have more interest in one area than in others, and can we'll show that potential donor our work in that area, but never accept money on a contract basis. we don't say that we're going to publish a paper specifically for that donor with a certain conclusion subject to that person giving us money. so it's basically if they agree with that institution or mission in life and they want to affiliate with us, we welcome their support. and there are examples where we've lost six-figure donors
because we published something that they didn't like, and they warned us in advance, and they said don't do this because if you do it, we'll withdraw funding. we ran it through the traps, we double checked with our analysts, we made sure this is what we wanted to say, we wrote it, we published, and they withdrew their funding. so that's, you know, an important test to the integrity of a research institution. >> this idea of donor control at all of the major established think tanks, it's just bologna. it's just bologna. at aei no donor has more than a 1.5% of the donations. of we lose donors all the time. i don't -- the two cases you mentioned were not cases when i was there. but i never at aei, and i've never at any other institute seen anybody hired, fired, a paper torched, a paper buried because some donor was upset.
i just haven't. so -- >> i would just say briefly, i mean, we have a policy, very clear policy that no corporate or individual support can, support individual research for this very reason, you know? because i think it becomes a challenge for folks who don't make that kind of commitment, but that we are very clear that, you know, no particular paper is written because of a contribution for foundations it's different, but the foundations are funding broad research. so -- >> um -- >> go ahead. >> just two quick points. i agree on the donor point though. i'm going to criticize him a little bit for one thing. in the article i mentioned the david fromm incident, and i don't know what happened because i was not privy to the conversation, but i do know norm ornstein was at aei, and the things he wrote blasting
democratic procedures in pursuit of the health care bill i think were much more damaging to the republican cause than anything david said in his report about health care. so i just don't see that as the cause but, again, i wasn't in the room. >> if i mean, you could have asked david, though, is that a particular view. >> we have, we have about two, two and a half minutes. i'm going to try to get in two more questions. >> okay. i'll be very quick. david, st. andrews university. and on the point on tenure, i always thought that tenure means never having to say that you're sorry. [laughter] what i do want to ask is it's been a very good discussion, i think you've highlighted a lot of the issue, a central one, obviously, being the kind of shout fest that eventually arises out of exchanges of ideas between left and right. what i'd like to ask is does the panel have any proposals on how you actually solve this? how do you move forward?
i'm not sure i've heard any kind of solutions on how do you allow, because i guess bipartisanship is in the eye of the beholder, but do you have any proposals on how you get past this? >> that's a very good question, and people have asked me this. first of all, i don't support any government policy for justice. i think that's for outside government issue, and i'm not looking for that kind of thing. i think it's a great think there are a lot of think tanks and they have things to say. and the way you get to be a think tank is, a, get the 501(c)(3) designation, and there are tests that apply, and you call yourself a think tank. so there are plenty of organizations that have 501(c)(3) status but aren't think tanks s. so the universe we're talking about is having that outside blessing from the government plus also self-designate as think tanks. and i'm wondering if we will be reaching a point at some time
when the self-designation part of it will come to an issue, where some places will be east think tanks or public policy research and others have already taken up names like this, action tanks or do tanks or whatever they want to call themselves. there is a distinction. perhaps people in the journalistic world or in the outside world might start making that distinction in the way they write about these places, but again, i'm not for any government policy to address this. >> very patient gentleman in the back, one last question, and then we'll wind up. >> ken. to some ec tent -- extent, tevi, what you're rearticulating is this founding debate about whether an institution can take the place of a virtuous individual. and when i came to washington in 1986, i was working for the or claremont institute and through a series of serendipitous events
i got to talking with clarence thomas who sort of hired me as a think tank and subsequent he we hired two other political theorists. and we did some real thinking, read serious books. it wasn't policy oriented or very specific at all, but he deepened his understanding of american political principles, and then he could go out and choose among what the real think tanks were actually doing. so i guess i'm asking, well, what -- who reads your stuff and what effect does it have? and thomas acknowledged his debt to those of us who worked with him in his autobiography and various other forums. >> well, you -- >> tevi, we're going to give you the last word here. >> you asked a question that goes to the heart of any think tank scholar or any writer which
is who reads your stuff, and is there any value to it? [laughter] it's an existential, difficult question that is challenging to all of us. one of my former bosses when i told him i was going to the think tank world after working government, he said, you know, this that world you're only as good as the last piece you write. that's how i'll end it up. >> we've come to the end of our discussion session, and i would say that one piece of evidence for the value of what think tanks do have been these wonderful presentations that we've had on this panel. from tevi troy, neera a , the anden, will marshall. thank you very much. [applause]
[inaudible conversations] >> up next, a look at current and past political advertising. and the senate is in at 10 eastern. we expect work on a surface transportation bill. the senate will break this afternoon for party meetings. live senate coverage here on c-span2. >> even a person who's a senator, even a person now who's president of the united states faces a predicament when they talk about race. they face all sorts of predicaments. they face the fact that there are some, an appreciable number of americans, who are racially prejudiced. they face the fact that a much larger portion of the american populace wants to deny the
realities of race even now. >> sunday, harvard law professor and former law clerk to justice thur good marshall, randall kennedy, on racism, politics and the obama administration. the rhodes scholar is the author of five books, and he'll take your calls, e-mails and tweets for three hours live on "in depth" on booktv on c-span2. >> now, a look at the history of political advertising. this forum examines how negative ads have changed over the years and focuses on the 1964 presidential campaign between lyndon johnson and barry goldwater. hosted by the new america foundation, this is about an hour, 40 minutes. [inaudible conversations] >> good afternoon. hello. welcome to our first delve into
'12 event here at the new america foundation. i'm vice president and editorial director here at new america. delve into '12 is our think tank's campaign blog and series of events where we take a look at policy issues being discussed or not being discussed as the case may be on the campaign trail as well as looking at the nature of the discourse and political culture that emanates from this election cycle. before we begin, i just want to have, say, put out a few housekeeping rules which is to remind everybody that this event is being webcast, and it's going to be on c-span, and it's being recorded, so everything will be on the record, obviously. and there'll be a couple of question sessions so, please, if you have a question or a comment to make during one of those sessions, wait for a microphone and identify yours. yourself. now i'd like to have you, please, turn your attention to the monitor because i'd like to kick off the day with some of the nastiest political messaging
ever. john, are we ready? >> be some political watchers are saying this could be the nastiest, negative election season of all time. >> this campaign season seems like candidates have taken dirty to a whole new level. >> when pundits start shouting and politicians start calling each other names, it can seem like a return to civility is not possible, like the very idea is a relic of some bygone era. ♪ >> john adams is a blind, bald, crippled, toothless man who wants to start a war with france. while he's not busy importing mistresses from europe, he's trying to marry one of his sons to a daughter of king george. haven't we had enough monarchy in america? >> i'm thomas jefferson, and be i approved this message because john adams is a hideous character with neither the force
and firmness of a man or the gentleness and sensibility of a woman. >> if thomas jefferson wins, murder, robbery, rape, adultery and incest will be openly taught and practiced. the air will be rant with the cries of the distressed, the soil will be soaked with blood, and the nation black with crimes. are you prepared to see your dwellings in flames? female chastity violated? children writhing on a pike? >> i'm john adams, and i approved this message because jefferson is the son of a half-breed indian squaw, and hamilton is a creole bastard brat of a scot peddler. >> the nastiest, most negative election -- >> it can seem like a return to sflty is not possible. -- civility is not possible. >> so i don't know if you were able to see the attribution in the corner, but that was put together by our good friends at reason magazine and reason tv, so kudos to them. and i wanted to show that to sort of get us in the mood for
the discussions that are going to come and also to give us some perspective because we always tend to want to believe that we live in the most interesting times, the most dire of times, and i guess in some ways things are relative. so it's kind of useful perspective. with so many transseven cant issues facing the nation, it may seem frivolous to kick off our delve into '12 series with a session on advertising, but i would argue it's actually the perfect starting point. those of us here inside the proverbial beltway or the literal beltway tend to mock 30-second commercials. we follow, you know, we read policy papers put out by campaigns, we follow every single blow in the campaign season on the trail and every debate, and we dissect everything. so it's easy to lose sight of the fact that for most americans, people out there in the real world doing productive, actual real work, this is how they engage politics for the most part. this is how people learn about
candidates, um, and make their informed decisions about. it's based a hot on these advertisements that some of us can sort of say are superficial or what not. but for time-pressed americans, this is how they engage politics. and there's no doubt that the predominance of negative advertising is already becoming the distinguishing characteristic of this 2012 election cycle. um, i was a journalist, and those of us in the media tend to bemoan and decry negative advertising. journalists love bashing politicians, but we get squeamish when the politicians start bashing each other and somehow, you know, that's seen as a negative. negative advertising is usually spoken about as a negative. but it's not entirely clear that this is something that's bad to our political culture. it does seem corrosive, it seems to erode public faith in our
leaders, but i guess there's a case to be made that comparisons, um, and adversarial contrasts in advertising tends to bring out more core truths about candidates than do positive spots. so who's to say? so i don't think we're coming here today to presuppose that this is entirely a negative trend, but to put it in a context -- not just going back to the election of 1800 -- we wanted to start off by looking at who is daisy and how did the art of going nuclear in campaigns evolve there that famous spot that lyndon johnson ran against barry goldwater? how did we get from there to today? what is the cumulative effect of all this negative advertising on our political culture? and if nuclear campaign ads, if these negative ads are so effective, why don't commercial brands use the same types of
tactics to go after their debt to haves? so i think -- competitors? so i think that'll be an interesting discussion later on. so these are the issues and the questions that we're going to be considering today. i'd like to now introduce my partner in moderation, michael duffy is the executive editor of "time" and the magazine's former washington bureau chief. he's covered congress, he covered the first bush presidency and the clinton white house. he's won numerous journalism awards and written a couple of books, but most saliently i should mention that his upcoming book, "the president's club: inside the world's most exclusive fraternity," is coming out, will be published by simon & schuster in april, and i know i, for one, am looking forward to reading that. michael, thanks for joining us. >> thank you. [applause] >> my first job is to introduce
someone who actually knows something about negative advertising and advertising in general, so i have to exit the stage quickly. um, and it's robert mann who has had an interesting life and is the author of "daisy petals and mushroom clouds: lbj, barry goldwater and the ad that changed american politics." bob is the directer of the reilly center at lsu and has the quite remarkable distinction of having worked for three different democratic senators from louisiana and can a governor of louisiana, one of those four was russell long. which makes him almost as old as i am. and also an expert to tell us who can walk us back all the way through a much broader history of negative advertising in america than we might get somewhere else so, bob, come on up and start us off. [applause] >> thank you, michael. i'm delighted to be here, and
elizabeth is cracking the whip today and urged me to keep this presentation to about 20 minutes, so this is going to be the speed reader's, idiot's guide to political advertising. we're going to go through this pretty quickly. so 47 years ago, a little bit more, on the night of september 7, 1964, an innocent little girl transformed political advertising with a 60-second spot that exploded literally and figuratively the way that american politicians sold themselves to the public. for years barry goldwater, the republican nominee for president that year, had spoken recklessly about nuclear war. he joked about lobbing a missile into the men's room of the kremlin. he suggested using nuclear bombs to defoliate the forests of vietnam. he said the bomb was with merely another weapon, and he made a number of other reckless comments that suggested that he was not serious when it came to the stewardship of the nuclear arsenal. the attacks on goldwater by
johnson in 1964, most of it based on goldwater's own statements, his reckless statements about a variety of issues, not just nuclear war, introduced into our politics a radically new way of communicating with voters. examine any of the television spots created for presidential candidates in 1952, 1956, 1960, and then view barry goldwater's 1964 spots, and you will note, i believe, that there is no real creative progression from 1952 through 1964 until you get to, all, the lyndon johnson campaign. let me show you what i mean. first, we're going to look a at a few of the eisenhower spots from 952. they are creative mainly in the sense that they represent the first spot advertising in american politics, and we'll see those spots now. >> eisenhower answers america. >> they say we've never had it so good, yet i've had to stop
buying eggs, they're so expensive. >> no wonder. you actually pay 100 different taxes on just one egg. we must cut costs which means we must cut taxes. >> eisenhower answers america. >> general, how would you clean up the mess in washington? >> my answer? it's not a one-agency mess or even a one-department mess. it's a top to bottom mess. and i promise we will clean it up from top to bottom. >> eisenhower answers america. >> can you cut taxes, mr. eisenhower? >> we can and will be you help. if you help. taxes have gone up steadily for 15 years. the democrats say they must go up still more. help me put the lid on crazy government spending. >> eisenhower answers america. >> my children hear so much about government they think
everyone is crooked. >> i know. too many politicians have sold our ideals of honesty down the potomac. we must brick back integrity and thrift to washington. this we are determined to do. >> eisenhower answers america. >> general, if war comes, is this country really ready? >> it is not. the administration has spent many billions for national defense, yet today we haven't enough planes for the fighting in korea. it's time for a change. >> eisenhower answers america. >> today they say i never had it so good, yet my pension won't even feed me and my wife. >> it's not just your pension, it's the same with our bonds, our savings, our social security. they've all gone down. yes, it's time for a change. >> eisenhower answers america. >> mr. eisenhower, what are you going to do about taxes? >> we are going to bring them down, and here's how.
we are going to cut out the billions that washington is wasting and put that money back in the pockets of the people. >> eisenhower answers america. >> general, the democrats are telling me i never had it so good. >> can that be true when america's billions in debt, when prices have doubled, when taxes break our backs and we are still fighting in korea? it's tragic, and it's time for a change. >> eisenhower answers america. >> general, just how bad is waste in washington? >> how bad? recently, just one government bureau actually lost $400 million, and not even the fbi can find it. it's really time for a change. >> eisenhower answers america. >> i pay $24 for these groceries. look, for this little? >> a few years ago those same groceries cost you $10. now $24. next year, $40. that's what will happen unless
we have a change. >> eisenhower answers america. >> can you cut taxes, mr. eisenhower? >> we can and will. today an average man with one child has $1200 in taxes squeezed out of his pay, yet the democrats say taxes must go up. but we will put the lid on government spending. >> eisenhower answers america. >> i'm 66, i can't live on my social security. nobody can. >> i stand for expanded social security and more real benefits. believe me, sir, if i am president, i'll give you older folks action, not just sympathy. >> eisenhower answers america. >> we retired on less than a $2,000 pension, and at today's prices we just can't live on it. >> with today's taxes and prices, you need over $4,000 to buy what $2,000 bought then. that's why i say vote for a
change. >> eisenhower -- >> can we stop this and move ahead to the next one? okay. i'm sorry, that was, that was many more than i originally want today play for you, but you get the idea. he ran dozens of these, all 15 seconds, and they were really the first spot advertising and the first and maybe last for some time use of spot advertising like that in political campaigns. now i want to move ahead and look at an adlai stevenson spot from the same election. while john's getting that set up, elle tell you that -- i'll tell you that in between takes of that spot eisenhower muttered to an aide, to think that an old general should come to this. it was a very degrading experience for eisenhower. ♪ old mcdonald had a farm back in '31.
♪ the nation filled him with alarm back in '31. not a moo cow here, and farmer mac doesn't want to go back to the days of 1931 when he didn't have bread when the day was done. ♪ farmer mac knows what to do, election day of '52. ♪ want to go out with everyone in the usa. ♪ to vote for adlai stevenson to keep his farm this way. ♪ with a vote vote here and a vote vote there and a vote for stevenson everywhere if you can if you can more if it's -- ♪ for if it's good for mac, it's good for you, you see. ♪ >> okay. so the jingles were very popular, and even kennedy used them in his advertising. now we're going to fast forward and look at some, at a spot by
richard nixon and john kennedy. i think the kennedy spot may be the first one. >> this is the sills' family. >> mr. and mrs. sills are facing one of the great problems that all american families are now facing and that is the great increase in the cost of living. >> our rent has gone up, our food, our cleaning of our clothing, buying of the clothing, our gas and electric and our telephone bills have gone up. >> what's been your experience, mr. sills? >> well with, keeping those two daughters of yours -- >> we're very concerned with their future, we would like both of them to go to college. >> have you been able to put much aside? >> no, unfortunately, not now. >> one of the things which i think has increased the cost of living has been this administration's reline on a high interest rate policy. we're going to have to try to do a better job in this field.
>> yes, we can do better. but to do so, we must elect the man who cares about america's problems. we must elect john f. kennedy president. >> and next is a nixon spot from 1960. >> ladies and gentlemen, the vice president of the united states, richard m. nixon. >> i want to talk to you for a moment about civil rights, equal rights for all our citizens. why must we vigorously defend them? first, because it is right and just. and second, because we cannot compete successfully with communism if we fail to utilize completely the minds and energies of all of our citizens. and third, the whole world is watching us. when we fail to grant equality to all, that makes news, bad news for america all over the world. now, the record shows there's been more progress in civil rights in the past eight years than in the preceding 80 years
because this administration has insisted on making progress. and i want to continue and speed up that progress. i want to help build a better america. for all americans. >> so you'll notice that technically and creatively these spots don't really evolve much over the, through the '50s into the early '60s, and they rely almost entirely on fact-based appeals, no real emotion. now, i want to move four year into the future to 964 and watch a -- 1964 and watch a barry goldwater spot. can you stop this, john? this is, this is actually out of order. this is the, this is a volkswagen spot that burnback did. john kennedy saw the spots that ddb were doing for various advertisers including volkswagen, and he told his brother-in-law, steve smith, go
>> have you ever wondered how the man who drives a snowplow drives to the snowplow? this one drives a volkswagen. so you can stop wondering. [background sounds] >> okay. those spots are a little bit out of order, and that's my fault, but now we're going to look at the goldwater spot, and i'll come back and put this in a bit of perspective. >> don't look now, young man, but somebody has his hand in your pock. it's the hand of -- pocket. it's the hand of big government. it's taking away about four months' pay from what your daddy earns every year, and it's taking the security out of your
grandmother's social security. >> you know, that's the great trouble with big, inflationary government. it takes more and more of your earnings. it slowly but surely destroys individual initiative and responsibility. government must draw its strength from the people, and as it drains away their strength, it must inevitably undermine the foundations of self-government. i ask you to join me in helping restore the individual freedoms and initiatives this nation once knew. to make government more the servant and not the master of us all. in this free nation, we do not choose to be ruled. of we elect to be governed. >> in your heart you know he's right. vote for barry goldwater. >> so as you can see, the goldwater spot is really kind of frozen in time. it's not much different from the spots that were shown a decade earlier. so now we arrive at the 1964 johnson campaign and the spots that quite literally changed american politics. what would become known as the
daisy girl spot was produced by doyle dane burnback, was seen that night by an estimated 50 million people, and i would like to note that one of the creators of the spot is with us today. sid, would you stand up and raise your hand? this is sid meyers. [applause] sid is a legend -- >> [inaudible] [laughter] >> well, that'll be determined later, i think. sid is a legend in the advertising business, and he was a senior art director for ddb in 1964 and was a key player in the creation of the daisy girl spot and some of the others that you'll see in a moment. he's joined here with some of his colleagues with the new firm they've created, chuck schroeder, ed giles and don, and sid's wife bonnie is here as well, so i hope you'll get a chance to visit with him and talk to him. these are the original mad men you're seeing. we're going to watch the daisy girl spot that was shown one time, only once, it was a paid ad.
>> one, two, three, four, five, seven, six, six, eight, nine -- >> 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0. >> these are the stakes: to make a world in which all of god's children to live or to go into the dark. we must either love each other, or we must die. >> vote for president johnson on november 3rd. the stakes are too high for you to stay home. >> notice that the spot never shows goldwater's imhajj, never mentions his name. they didn't have to.
the information about goldwater's position on nuclear weapons was already embedded in the viewers' minds. they didn't need to provide information, they needed to provide context for that information. in the following week, the following monday this is the spot that aired. >> do you know what people used to do? they used to explode atomic bombs in the air. now, children should have lots of vitamin a and calcium, but they shouldn't have any cesium 137. these things come from atomic bombs, and they're radioactive. they can make you die. do you know what people finally did? they got together and signed a nuclear test ban treaty, and then the radioactive poison started to go away. but now there's a man who wants to be president of the united states, and he doesn't like this treaty.
he fought against it. he even voted against it. he wants to go on testing more bombs. his name is barry goldwater, and if he's elected, they might start testing all over again. >> vote for president johnson on november 3rd. the stakes are too high for you to stay home. >> here are another couple of spots that build on that theme of goldwater as a dangerous radical. [background sounds] >> this particular phone only rings in a serious or crisis. keep it in the hand of a man who's proven himself responsible. vote for president johnson on november 3rd. >> and this one uses goldwater's words against him m -- him.
>> on october 24, 1963, barry goldwater said of the nuclear bomb, merely another weapon. merely another weapon? vote for president johnson. stakes are too high for you to stay home. >> nuclear war wasn't the only summit that they were use -- subject they were using against goldwater. one spot ridiculed goldwater's statement about sawing off the eastern seaboard of the united states. [background sounds] >> in a saturday evening post article dated august 31, 1963,
barry goldwater said: sometimes i think this country would be better off if we could just saw off the eastern seaboard and let it float out to sea. can a man who makes statements like this be expected to serve all the people justly and fairly? vote for president johnson on november 3rd. the stakes are too high for you to stay home. >> note that there is a minimum amount of information in these spots, but they're very rich and very memorable images. that was one of the key innovations that sid and his colleagues achieved in that year. the daisy girl spot and these other ddb spots -- 27 in all -- were the first spots that used creative advertising principles in a presidential campaign except for those little 15-second eisenhower spots which were kind of a burst of creativity that went away. they were the first in a pretty ca era in which presidential
candidates increasingly and effectively used emotion, not reason, to win elections. the daisy girl spot's skillful manipulation of the fears residing in american viewers showed a new generation of political professionals that television advertising in campaigns was about far more than which candidate had the best facts, it was instead more about which candidate could give meaning to the facts and fears the voters already possessed. and today the dna of those spots is clearly still a part of political advertising. allow me to show you just a few negative spots ranging from 1968 through 2008. most of them represent something important that sid and his colleagues created in 1964. fist, i'll show -- first, i'll show you another richard nixon spot, perhaps the first negative spot that went dispoofer backfired. it suggested that hubert humphrey was indifferent to the death and carnage in vietnam. ♪ ♪
♪ ♪ >> okay. the next spot is we're going to jump ahead a few years from 1988, it's the famous willie horton spot that was aired by a third party group on behalf of george h.w. bush. it's a good example of how an existing narrative about a candidate can be put to use in an advertising campaign, also a
demonstration that ads can help create synergy in which the ad and the news melt together to create something larger than the sum of their parts. let's see that spot now. >> there is a bear in the woods. for some people the bear is easy the see. to see. others don't see it at all. some people say the bear is tame, others say it's vicious. and dangerous. since no one can really be sure who's right, isn't it smart to be as strong as the bear? if there is a bear? >> okay. that's my fault. that's ronald reagan's '88 campaign, the famous bear spot which i think is a very good use of parable in advertising and demonstrates like the tase si girl spot -- daisy girl spot that existing narratives in the viewers' mind can be put to use and don't require lots of factual information. i think now we'll see the willie
horton spot. >> bush and dukakis on crime. bush supports the death penalty for first-degree murders, dukakis not only poses the death penalty, he allowed first-degree murderers to have weekend passes from prison. one was willie horton. despite a life sentence, horton received ten weekend passes from prison. weekend prison pass, dukakis on crime. >> jay maher who's on the program today wrote a very interesting piece about that spot, and i commend it to you. thousand to 2004, one of the famous swift boat ads aimed at john kerry's record in vietnam. these were originally shown on cable, and it was a small ad buy, but it's a great example of how to use negative advertising to create news. ♪ >> they had personally raped,
cut off the ears, cut off heads -- >> the accusations that john kerry made against the veterans who served in vietnam was just devastating. >> randomly shot at civilians -- >> and it hurt me more than any physical wounds i had. >> cut off limbs, blown-up bodies. >> that was part of torture, to sign a statement that you admitted war crimes. >> razed villages in fashion reminiscent of genghis khan. >> jan kerry -- john kerry gave the enemy for free what many of us took torture to avoid saying. it demoralized us. >> crimes committed on a day-to-day basis. >> he betrayed us in the past, how could we be loyal to him now? >> ravaged countryside. >> he dishonored his country and, more importantly, the people he served with. he just sold them out. >> swift boat veterans for truth is responsible for for the contt of this advertisement. >> finally, here's a spot from
2008 in which the obama campaign uses john healthcare cane's statements about the economy -- mccain's statements about the economy against him. it's in the spirit of the ddb ads in '64 in which johnson used goldwater's ads against him to very good effect. ♪ ♪ >> our economy, i think, still the fundamentals of our economy are strong. the fundamentals of our economy are strong. ♪ >> the fundamentals of our economy are strong. >> i'm barack obama, and i approved this message. >> so as you can see from this very quick review, the spirit of daisy girl using emotions already in the hearts and minds of voters and bringing them to
the surface lives on increasingly in sophisticated advertising campaigns. the 1964 campaign introduced fear primarily, but not only fear, but fear as a powerful emotion in politics, and it showed in many ways in this new era of political advertising and campaigning that virtually anything could be fair game if in some cases if misused. and i would think, i would point, hasten to point out that sid argues very persuasively, and i believe him, that they did not misuse the truth. we've seen cases where it has been. i don't think it's an overstatement to say much of the political world we experience today was born in the presidential campaign of 1964. emotion, especially fear, as a tool of politicians and their advertising consultants as we will discuss in a few minutes is here to stay. thanks very much. [applause] >> thank you, bob, for that tour of history. now we're going to the second part of this which is going to look at, essentially, the
current environment. i'm going to retitle this segment, though, goldstein answers america because our guest, tom goldstein, is really the go-to guy if you're a political reporter about the current state of the political ads. and i just want to say one thing before tom starts. this current campaign is only half over, and yet we may not get a better epitaph for the campaign than one provided by historian and candidate newt gingrich who said in late necessary politics is a nasty and disgusting business. of course, newt said this on december 30th when only five of every ten ads in iowa were negative, though many of them were aimed at him. late december, the days of the 2012 campaign. to bring us up to seed be on -- speed on how it looks now, tom goldstein who used to be at the university of wisconsin as a political science professor, director of the wisconsin advertising project and, as i said, knows more about the data and the ads in this race than
anyone else alive, so come on up, tom. [applause] >> well, tom couldn't be here, so you have to go with ken goldstein. got the first name wrong, but no big deal. let me start by showing a number of ads that are currently currently aired in this republican presidential primary. and then what i really want to do is not so much talk about what's going on currently, but put into context what the use and effect of negative ads are. but let's first start by looking at some of those ads. >> it's the story of a lost city, lost opportunity, lost hope. a story of failed policies, failed leadership, a story of smooth-talking politicians, insider deals, games of he
said/she said rhetoric. one man has stood apart, stood strong and true. voting against every tax increase, every unbalanced budget, every time. standing up to the washington machine, guiding by principle. ron paul, the one with a land to cut a trillion dollars year one. eliminate the waste, balance the budget. ron paul, the one we can trust, the one who will restore america now. [cheers and applause] >> i'm ron paul, and i approved this message. >> you know what makes barack obama happy? newt gingrich's baggage. newt has more baggage an the airlines. freddie mac helped cause the economic collapse, but gingrich
cashed in. freddie mac paid newt $30,000 an hour, $1.6 million. gingrich not only teamed up with nancy pelosi on global warming, but together they co-sponsored a bill that gave $60 million a year to a u.n. program supporting china's brutal one-child policy. as speaker, gingrich even supported taxpayer funding of some abortions. and newt is the only speaker in history to be reprimanded. he was fined $300,000 for ethics violations by a republican congress. as conservative national review says, his weakness for half-baked and not especially conservative ideas made him a poor speaker of the house. he appears unable to transform or even govern himself. newt gingrich, too much baggage. restore our future is responsible for the content of this message. >> give you a couple more here. >> the crime? medicare fraud. the victims? american taxpayers. the boss?
mitt romney. romney supervised a company guilty of massive medicare fraud. that's a fact. $25 million in unnecessary blood tests right under romney's nose. romney pocketed a half a million dollars. cost to taxpayers? $40 million. get the facts at mitt's blood money.com. winning our future is responsible for the content of this ad. >> good evening, newt gingrich who came to power after all preaching a higher standard in american politics, a man who brought down another speaker on ethics accusations, tonight he has on his own record the judgment of his peers, democrat and republican alike, by an overwhelming vote they found him guilty of ethics violations. they charged him a very large financial penalty, and they raised -- several of them -- raised serious questions about his future effectiveness. >> i'm mitt romney, and i approved this message. >> okay.